Digitizing sponsorAmerican Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T), Bell System
Delightful musical made to promote color telephones as a decorator accessory in the home.
Ken Smith sez: A must-see. Broadway choreographer Gower Champion directed this stylized musical fantasy, in glorious fifties Technicolor, to push the Bell System's new color-coordinated telephones. A weird plot, strange characters, surreal imagery and lots of singing and dancing make for an extremely entertaining film.
Planning on the film began about a year ago, when new merchandising efforts to promote the new color handsets, speakerphones, kitchen phones and other products were just getting underway. The companies wanted to show the new products in a film, but subtly, noncommercially, and with sponsor identification kept to a very minimum.
Includes dancing through the kitchen, living room, and bedroom as the home magically modernizes before our very eyes.
Once upon a time, or maybe it should be twice upon a time, because this story begins where most stories end, there was a bit of excitement up on cloud seven. On this particular morning the head angel had called a conference to talk about Jeff and Mary and their guardian angel, Wilbur, was late! [heaven angels sets set design doors opening meetings deities gods]
Where is Wilbur? I have sent every cherub in the place out to look for him! Hiya fellas, let's get this show on the road. It's already on the road. I'm sorry, chief. We've got so many new clients, we'll have to open a new branch office.
These clients are your immediate concern. If you want to keep your license. Oh, yes sir, yes sir, yes sir, chief. Marriages are made in heaven, but there is followup work too. Jeff and Mary have been married for a year and they haven't had a real honeymoon yet. But everything's under control. They are starting on their honeymoon today.
That's what they think, too. But they are going to find out differently unless you get down there right away and take care of things! Something's come up? Something is coming up in exactly thirty seconds. Now get going. Yes sir, chief! Geronimo! [jumping diving falling]
Wilbur, Oh Wilbur. . . Yes Chief? Wilbur, make yourself invisible. Oh, I almost forgot. . . I'm sorry chief, but I've got to get organized. Besides, no one can see me up here. Yes sir, right chief. [falling cellular telephones phones mobile communications radio futurism shouting calling dialing conversations invisibility telephone antennas angels supernatural robes]
You got everything? Everything, including you. Well, let's go then. . . Hello. . . Jeff, this is Gordon. Well, hello Gordon and goodbye Gordon. Mary and I are just leaving. [angels angel dust transparency houses roofs ceilings couples magic living room suitcases kisses kissing telephones ringing]
Now wait a minute, something has come up. It can't come up. When I finished the score for the show you said that I could take Mary on our honeymoon. We've waited a year now and we're going. Now hold on, Jeff. It's Sonia. Her wishing number. The words are okay but she doesn't care much about the music. If we don't have a new tune by tomorrow morning she's not going to sign for the show. [offices arguments work meetings bosses coercion]
Look Gordon, rehearsals don't start for four weeks yet, and we're on our honeymoon. Now listen Jeff, if you don't come up with that new music, there won't be any show and there won't be any honeymoon. Now you can write a new melody in twenty four hours. There's no problem at all. You must have at least a dozen old tunes lying around. [coercion]
The wishing song? No problem at all. [disappointment depression cigarettes smoking ashtrays butts time-lapse]
No inspiration, darling? I couldn't write "The Farmer in the Dell" today. That temperamental ballerina. I'd like to. . . Take it easy. Look, it's way past dinner time and you haven't eaten lunch yet. I'm not hungry. I'll fix some coffee. [trays]
Yes? Hello, Mary? Yes Sonia. You tell Jeffrey, the dear boy, that I love his words, but I want more wishing in the wishing song. You are absolutely right. He couldn't agree with you more. He's working on it right now. It's almost finished. Goodbye. . . [piano playing telephones conversations divas singers cheeriness lying lies reaction shots anger hangups]
I wish I had a castle in the sky. Oh, way up high where bluebirds like to fly. A cozy little castle with a hundred rooms or more. Oh dear, someday, with stars for windows, clouds for rugs, a rainbow for a door. I wish. I just wish I had a decent kitchen. [kitchens laments wishes needs consumerism appliances singing solos Virginia Gibson refrigerators antiques twirls running water faucets dripping drips dancing stoves pilot lights matches wishes]
I wish. I wish the faucet wouldn't drip all day. I wish that refrigerator door would close and stay closed. I wish I had a stove whose pilot light was always lit. [angels angel dust magic futurism supernatural modernization futuristic Populuxe kitchens desire surrealism]
Furthermore, a kitchen phone at hand when friends call up to chat a bit. Hello, yes this is Mary. How are you, Vi? They say your kitchen dazzles every eye. A brand new sink, a built-in oven, a new refrigerator and a phone, a kitchen phone, a bright red phone. I've got to go. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. I'll call you later. [telephones wall phones ringing hangups hanging up conversations]
I wish my living room were all redone. New drapes, new rugs, oh this is fun. It's nice to have a telephone to blend with my new drapes and rug. A living room that's all our own. [entrances exits transitions dancing transformations surrealism twirls evening dresses magic tuxedos formalwear interior design desire consumerism skirts telephones fetishism pianos couples ecstasy]
The bedroom should be changed completely too. Perhaps a color scheme of gold and blue. New furniture and lots of room for all my clothes. On second thought I might try dusty rose. [interior design interior decoration bedrooms seduction women transformations surrealism]
A lady likes to have a chance to change her mind. I might like a yellow room with turquoise and white and maybe a telephone that lights up at night. I wish, I may, I wish, I might. [desire wishes red yellow telephones]
Hello, hello, they hung up. It was probably Gordon sitting there like a vulture. Call him back. Maybe I'll have it in a day or two but not tonight. I haven't got one idea left to rub against another. His line's busy. Well, try it again. If he and Sonia can't wait I don't care what they do. [telephones ringing]
Why don't we call him later. No, now. All right. Wait a minute, do that again. Yeah, yeah, why not? Yeah. Again, do it again. It works. Good. A waltz. [angels magic angel dust telephones blowing dialing reaction shots rhythm busy signals themes insight creativity fingers]
Hello, oh, hello Gordon. I've been trying to get Jeff. Sonia is here. How is it coming? Wonderful, do you want to hear something? You bet. I'll turn on the speakerphone. I want Sonia to hear it. Fine, listen to this.
I wish I had a castle in the sky. Oh, way up where the blue birds fly. A castle with a sky full of bright, shining stars for windows, clouds for rugs, a rainbow for a door. I wish I had a castle in the sky where we could watch the world go by with silver from the moonlight and gold from the sun in our own, just our own, wishing castle in the sky. [singing songs duets love dancing player pianos invisibility glasses]
I love it, such rhythm, such spirit, such vivace! That's it, kids, bring it in, Jeff, and go on your honeymoon. [dancing acrobatics tricks suitcases love happy endings]
Chief? This is Wilbur. Mission accomplished. I'll be right up. Right. [The End. A Jerry Fairbanks Production. The Bell System]
August 31, 2014 Subject:
Unconsummated Marriage After One Year
So no wonder the husband goes ballistic. The man had unmet needs. They have twin beds no less. And of course all she can think about is redecorating with color coordinated phones. Sooo mid-'50's!
1956 was the year all the housewives in my neighborhood just had to have a wall phone in the kitchen. [ Today its a $2200 stainless steel french door fridge.] My crafty mom shot some leg at the guy from the phone company and presto we got an extension phone upstairs too - for free. I was there. I saw it all happen.
That instant blast of musical genius after snorting some white powder was a good 20 years early for the mainstream.
August 22, 2014 Subject:
this is so prescient
the telephone has become god. who could be without their smart-phone or mobile, without having a nervous break down? it's fragmenting society really and turning people into appendages of their mobile tech devices instead of we controlling it. and people today, more than ever, think their favorite brand name, consumption preference defines their personality. There is less variation of personality types today. We are all becoming a few cookie cutter type of "persons". And that is just what the masters in the amalgamation of the corporate with the state want us to be. producing and consuming automatons. those of us who defy the corporate state are left to be homeless,persecuted, scape - goats, misfits as a market of undesirables to be exploited by the prison, mental health, police and military industries. is it any wonder so many of us find our only escape from this diabolical system, in drugs?
@magaphoto: I just noticed your review. I like your review. I am with you. sad there were few reviews which dug through the layers of bull shit like yours does.
May 20, 2013 Subject:
RIP Virginia Gibson 1925 - 2013
1925 - 2013
July 7, 2012 Subject:
Case study on self-delusion meets the end of the world:
Produced when US post-war production was white-hot and we needed a dream to focus on as well as a place to keep all this stuff being produced. Of course now, we stick to the teat of "buy s**t = be happy", because if you don't move inventory you end up in the street. Now we're drowning in useless junk. Oh, and keep believing that driving a Prius will save the world. The puppeteers are now in the history books:
When our society went from "buying to replace" to "buy to be happy", the effect snowballed over the decades with the force needed to keep from experiencing a real existential crisis.
September 7, 2011 Subject:
Did I See - What You Saw
Personally, I loved this commercial/infomercial.
I must be dumb because I did not see: an unhappy subdued or repressed wife, a sex maniac, all phones on 1 line, post war consumerism?, or a lot of other things that reviewers mentioned.
Again,I must be dumb, because what I did see: a great commercial, with beautiful colors, that made me feel warm, fuzzy and happy all over; a nice size home, which fits with their type of job; a couple with no children trying to get away; great decorating ideas; really cool retro appliances and furniture; a color phone in every room, no splitters were visible, I checked 3 times; and oh! did I mention the colors in the commercial were the cats meow?
For Pete's sake, it's a commercial and I cannot believe how long my review is for a nice, happy and fun commercial???
There seems to be a need for a 'CHILL PILL'. It's just a commercial......
please forgive any sp/gr errors
September 6, 2011 Subject:
They don't make infomercials like they used to. Notice the two beds in the newly weds bedroom, a conspiracy to sell more beds perhaps? jk, funny stuff.
August 20, 2010 Subject:
A must see
Marvin Miller is uncredited as the narrator in the opening.
April 29, 2009 Subject:
Another Unhappy Housefrau....Until....
....No Wonder She's Unhappy.....Newlywed Husband Is Banging Every Orifice She Has 24/7!....And She Has To Replace Her Sealy Every Six Months!...But Then She Get A Telephone & Can Call Up Old Girlfriend....& Have A Weekday Dalliance....And Get Away From That Sex Maniac!....
March 17, 2009 Subject:
They Put the Kitsch in Kitchen
This is definitely a five-star flick for over-the-top bulldada. For starters, it's filmed in glorious Superscope 235, as the title informs us. The frame itself is standard Academy 1.37, and the only indication of its widescreen status was that the titles were scrunched towards the middle of the frame.
Apart from a heaven that looked like some celestial boardroom, the movie is set in a 'typical' newlywed couple's house. In other words, a dingy fixer-upper in need of remodeling--that's still bigger and better looking than anything the Cleavers or Nelsons ever owned. And, of course, the hubby is a typical run-of-the-mill composer of show tunes, a character I'm sure 99% of the guys out there can sympathize with.
The hubby shows his artsy, bohemian nature by chain smoking cigarettes of the non-wacky variety. The wifey shows her repressed sexuality by singing to her refrigerator. And, of course, the master bedroom has twin his-n-her beds, which always gives movies of this era a strange parallel-universe look. (Either that, or this was one seriously hung dude.)
In classic MGM musical style, all it takes to remodel your house--as well as compose a hit tune--is to sing some poorly-dubbed tune about different telephone colors and dance around the place. Why, it's magic!
January 22, 2009 Subject:
Silly, but being a cinematic infomercial the production values are excellent. Rich, vibrant colour film enchances the production. Aimed at the Upper Middle Class, and pure fantasy, it's still a pleasant example of 1950's advertising.
October 16, 2008 Subject:
Darling, I Like It
Very cute and charming.
Very nice colour footage of decor designs of the time, very good vocal performances, but still weird enough for campy pleasure. What more could you want?
September 6, 2008 Subject:
I have a question
Loved the film, play it all the time. But what I still want to know is: how does a new tune put more "wishing" into the Wishing Song? Apparently the words are the same, because Sonya said she liked those. So what am I missing here? I can't be the only one who ever asked this question.
March 7, 2008 Subject:
Charming and Delightful film which uses the soft-sell. Who knows if it sold many telephones, But today this film has "Retro" appeal. Nice footage of the then-latest in home designs. I must admit I liked the old living room more, But the kitchen certainly needed changing. I'm surprised this is a Telephone add, since it's very subtle. I'm gonna show my grandma this film, Back in the 50's she was quite poor and would of loved to have a dream home like that. Unlike "A Touch Of Magic", this film never seems too materialistic, and it's certainly less silly than "Design for Dreaming".
June 21, 2007 Subject:
An Absolute Charmer
Gower Champion did a superb job in directing this mid 1950's musical infomercial. Excellent music,nice sets,and talented performers.The production came across with the message of how colored phones enhance a home without being obtrusive.
June 19, 2007 Subject:
I just saw part of this on TV
Part of this film was used for a television commercial I just saw for the self-storage company Public Storage. It was the part where the wife sang into the phone, hung up, and danced over to the oven. It was changed to black & white for use in this commercial.
December 17, 2006 Subject:
Nice little piece of the era. I must admire the American film industry for their clever use of song & dance to inspire sales!!
September 19, 2006 Subject:
I simply loved this ad. The song "A castle in the sky" is wonderful. One of the best films on this website.
April 2, 2006 Subject:
Wishing for a Better Marriage
Lonely housewife Mary sings and dances through her magically re-decorated home in a dream sequence that features a color-coordinated phone in every room. What does she need all these phones for? Is she desperate for someone to communicate with? SheÃÂs been married to songwriter husband Jeff for a year and still hasnÃÂt gone on a honeymoon. HeÃÂs too busy trying to please the temperamental diva Sonia, who wants more ÃÂwishingÃÂ in JeffÃÂs ÃÂWishing SongÃÂ for her Broadway show.
SoniaÃÂs not MaryÃÂs only problem. An angel called Wilbur is on their roof sprinkling fairy dust on them. Are there deeper problems in this marriage? And Jeff chain smokes like crazy. Fortunately, heÃÂs inspired by the sound of the telephone dial to write the song and can finally take Mary on their honeymoon. But this isnÃÂt a marriage made in heaven. Her dream sequence shows us that Mary is as talented a singer and dancer as Sonia. Maybe she should go back to work and give Sonia a run for the money. Married to a problematic man whoÃÂs a heavy smoker, Mary may have no choice but to pick up one of her colorful phones and contact the outside world.
January 8, 2006 Subject:
This is a charming bit of ephemera, with a clever song and dance routine. I enjoyed this one quite a bit--mostly for the retro appliances and interior design. And of course, who can resist the idea of a colorful phone in EVERY room?
Of course, you might say that this film is a gross exhibit of post-war consumerism, but I honestly don't see the point in taking it so seriously. Relax! Enjoy it!
September 15, 2005 Subject:
everysong a castle
A little trivia for yez-. The fleisher bros made two full length animated features, the famous Gullivers travels (availablehere) and the lesser known"Mr Bugs Goes toTown." That film concerned the lovelifeof an insect and the parrallel plot in the human world concerned a songwriter desparately trying to write a hit, like in Once upon a honeymoon and in both films the songwriter finally suceeds, with help, and in both the song is entitled "Castle in the Sky"
June 13, 2005 Subject:
Great White Hornrims
This movie is a fantastic exercise in '50's pastel coloured "modern living" type industrial films. Check out dude with the glasses, he's got Buddy Holly beat! Jerry Fairbanks rules.
January 7, 2005 Subject:
Re: Once Upon a MSTie
I heartily second the recommendation to check out the MST3K send-up of this short, though for me it's not one of their very best (my favorites include "A Date With Your Family", "Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance", "Aquatic Wizards", "Robot Rumpus", and even "Century 21 Calling", Jerry Fairbanks' other somewhat disguised Bell phone promotional short that they did).
MST's take on this short is available, BTW, on "Shorts, Volume 3", which is now out-of-print on VHS and is only available as a 3rd bonus DVD when ordering "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Essentials" through a special offer described on http://mst3000dvd.com/. I have no connection with any of the companies involved; just wanted to pass along this somewhat obscure info.
"Once Upon A Honeymoon"
Tom: How many times Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson had sex!
December 12, 2004 Subject:
basically this movie shows a german hacker's dream of the 80s, having _several_ phones in your house in different colours. Having speakerphones and all. Back in the 80s you could have theoretically gone to jail for connecting 2 telephones to your line.
August 29, 2004 Subject:
Once Upon a MSTie
This short alone is probably one of the best ever, certainly among the best on this entire site. However, this short was one (of many here) to be riffed by Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and is (IMHO) the best job they ever did with a short, besides "Hired!". Hilarious stuff, especially during the kitchen phone scene, the "angel dust" scenes, and the speaker phone scene. You owe it to yourself to see the send-up by MST3K. You'll never be the same.
No matter whether the "real" version or the MSTied one, this short is a must-have, must-see!
(Perhaps as a payback for all the times Best Brains got shorts from here, they could allow the Prelinger Archives to have a copy of their version... worth asking?)
One of the best films on this site, this film, about PHONE COLORS (???!!!) starts off in heaven, angel Wilbur (in odd white glasses) is assigned to oversee that Jeff and Mary go off in their honeymoon. "Something has come up?" Wilbur asks. The head angel replies, "Something is coming up in exactly 30 seconds!". Before we can figure out what THAT was all about, Wilbur yells, "Jallimo!" or something and goes down to earth.
Jeff and Mary are about to go on their honeymoon when Gordon, his boss calls. It seems that Jeff is a broadway composer, and the head singer won't sign for the show unless "The Wishing Song" is rewritten! Soon Jeff is stranded at home, butting out his upteenth cigarette. His wife goes into the kitchen, and basically, the movie takes a total left turn (the movie is 15 times loopy already) and Mary brings down the house (literally) with her rendition of "The Wishing Song". After countless viewings of this film, I know this song inside and out, and it's one of the most amazing song and dance routines ever captured on film. Sample lines:
"I wish my living room was all redone,
new drapes, new rug oh this is fun!"
Oh yeah, the whole thing wraps up nicely. Won't spoil THAT for you, but all I can say is who KNEW? Screwier then any other film you've seen, this is a MUUUUUST see on this site!
December 17, 2003 Subject:
Warning: Songs will burn themselves into your brain.
Famed dancer and choreographer Gower Champion directs this genuinely charming promotional film for Ma Bell. Champion cleverly soft peddles the phones and concentrates instead on the song and dance routines. Newlywed Mary's "Wishing Song" number interestingly tries to point up the contrast between 50s reality and 50s consumer fantasy in a promotional film that must lean inevitably towards the latter. Compared to other Jerry Fairbanks promo films for Ma Bell, "Once Upon a Honeymoon" is unique and was probably not well-liked by Bell, who preferred that their technology be given the hard-sell.
"Chief Angel" Russell Hicks had been in almost 300 films since 1915, and had a memorable role in W.C. Fields' "The Bank Dick". This is his last film appearance. Also watch for well-known character actor Alan Mowbray in a small role.
May 1, 2003 Subject:
Any film where a fallen angel saves the day is okay by me.
December 1, 2002 Subject:
Once Upon a Honeymoon
Songwriter Jeff hasn't been able to take his wife Mary on a honeymoon in over a year because of his workaholic boss, but now he finally has the chance. They're all packed and just getting ready to leave when, of course, the boss calls and tells Jeff that Sonya, the prima-donna backer of the musical Jeff just scored, wants a new tune to "The Wishing Song" right away. It looks like the honeymoon is over, but the day is saved by Jeff and Mary's incredibly swishy guardian angel, Wilbur, who arrives on the scene dressed in a powder blue monk's robe and Elton John-style white glasses, sprinkling glitter everywhere. But the film is not really even about honeymoons or wishing or angels or songwritingÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂit's about colored telephones. If that description elicits a "huh?" from you, the film itself will elicit an even bigger "huh?" It's truly amazing how many of these films have supernatural characters appear in order to help the main characters with their problems, and how weird those supernatural characters usually are. Great fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****. Also available on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode #701: Night of the Blood Beast and Our Secret Century, Vol. 1: The Rainbow Is Yours.